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Jay Johnson--more Info About Va Respite Care Benefit

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Guest Morgan



I found out more about respite care through the VA. The program is for the caregivers of "chronically ill veterans."

First, the director of the program contacted me and gave me a list of contracted home health agencies.

I talked to some of the people from each one and decided which one better suited us. (Of course, background checks of their employees are most important.) They will assist with daily living needs as a home health aide or homemaker. So light housekeeping is part of the program, if needed.

I got a letter today telling me respite care is set up for 30 days per year, which can be inpatient (7 days at a time) or three-hour visits at home (each three-hour visit counts as 1 "day.") The home health agency said we can pay for longer visits if we need them. Now I have to get over an emotional tie to being the "only" one I trust to stay with him. I know I need a break, and you know what? A new face would probably do him good. I'd say he could use a break from me too. :)

Here's what the pamphlet says:

Respite Care

Respite care temporarily relieves the spouse or other caregiver from the burden of caring for a chronically ill or disabled veteran at home. In the past, respite care admission was limited to an institutional setting, typically a VA nursing home. The Veterans Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act expanded respite care to home and other community settings, and home respite care was provided at 15 VA medical centers in fiscal year 2003. Currently, respite care programs are operating in 136 VA medical centers, with each program typically providing care to approximately five veterans on any given day. Respite care is usually limited to 30 days per year.

Who is Eligible?

Any enrolled veteran who is "qualifed by VA standards" [i don't know what this means] and meets the following criteria:

1. Has been living in a home setting for at least 3 months prior to the Respite Program Admission.

2. Receives assistance from an unpaid caregiver (family member or friend) on a daily basis.

3. Has a VA Primary Care team providing ongoing medical.

4. Does not require hospitalization.

Note: The program may be unable to provide for veterans known to be assaultive. Each veteran will be considered case by case.

The In-patient option could require a co-pay.

In-home care is provided by a homemaker or home health aide, depending on need.

Hope this helps.


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Thank you SO much for the information Carrie......Holiday season is VERY tough on my wife, so I will probably wait until march or so before I attempt to set anything up (or even run it by her for the matter), but I definitely plan on taking advantage of this if possible.

One more question - Who, exactly, is the contact within the VA that deals with this program? (or, at least, what is his/her official title?)

Thank again,


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I, too, so hope you can get this benefit. I just don't know how they qualify the veteran's caregiver.

The person who called me is the director of the Home Based Primary Care program. I had no idea this was available until she told me.

I will see if I can get more contact information where you can find out which locations offer it. I'll get back to you as soon as I find out something.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! To you and your family. I will say a prayer for all of you during this season.

Blessings to you all,


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Jay and Dorothy,

You might want to read the document I just found. I'm not sure whether it has been updated since 1996, but I think most of these programs are in operation now. Some of them have probably changed--respite care is expanded to in-home care and inpatient care.

Dorothy, I think you are probably in the Home Health Aide/Homemaker program, which is a different program from Respite Care.

Go here if you want to read more about these benefits:


Respite Care is on page 58, and the list of VA locations for each program starts on page 84.

Here's a quick description of the HBPC. The document says it's available to all veterans who are

"homebound, chronically, or terminally ill veterans who require services from two or more disciplines."

III. Home Based Primary Care (HBPC)

Description of the program:

The HBPC program was established by VA Headquarters in 1972. The number of VA medical centers with HBPC programs has varied over time, but currently there are 73 VAMCs with HBPC programs (refer to Appendix A for a complete listing). The HBPC program provides interdisciplinary team home health care services to homebound, chronically or terminally ill veterans who require services from two or more disciplines. VA provides direct medical, nursing, social, rehabilitation and dietetic services in the home, and educates family members in the care of the patient. The family provides the necessary personal care under the coordinated supervision of the interdisciplinary treatment team.

HBPC is a VA program funded by VA and provided to veterans in need of post discharge care or those veterans who can no longer utilize VA outpatient care without great difficulty. Services are provided to veterans in a limited geographic area in close proximity to the VAMC, a VA outpatient clinic, or a satellite office.


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